Wednesday, May 20, 2015

DAY TRIP TO FLORENCE ARIZONA AREA

Currently in Goodyear AZ (Low 64 Partly Sunny High 96)

We recently took a day trip to the Florence Arizona area. Our first stop was the Queen Creek Olive Mill in Queen Creek Arizona.



What started out as a warm getaway from the chilly Detroit winter for a couple in 1997 turned into an empire. While visiting they were surprised to see the number of olive trees in the area. Being of Italian descent and knowing the goodness of olive oil they decided to move to Queen Creek and started out with a few trees as a hobby selling the olive oil locally. That quickly caught on and they added more to the product line in their gift shop and a small cafe. They now supply the Valley and its surrounding cities with farm fresh, local food and of course Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the Queen Creek location and three retail stores across Arizona.

We started off with breakfast and it was really good food from their small cafe. 




Bob got the mushroom omelet and Jo got the peach waffles, sorry no pictures. We then bought some great olives from the gift shop. But we have to go back, the food was excellent and we need to try the homemade gelato and their other desserts looked yummy. We also want to do a tour but we had more things planned so we moved on. We then went to the Pork Shop, a local butcher shop for some excellent sausage that we blogged about earlier here



Then it was off to Florence for the Tom Mix Monument, the sight where Tom Mix was killed in a car wreck.






Then it was off to downtown Florence for a rare urban state park, McFarland State Park. We toured the visitor center and learned that POWs were held in the area.






We walked around downtown Florence, here is the tree planted in the movie "Murphy's Romance". 




A Catholic Church.




We then had some great homemade ice cream. Then it was off to the prison outlet store.




Prisoners create all the artwork and items in the outlet store by hand and some of it is amazing. 




The rest of the story about the prison outlet is that it self funded and employs nearly 2,000 inmates. They produce products for business, institutions, schools, and more in addition to the outlet store. This operation returned over $2 million dollars to Arizona's General Fund last fiscal year and contributed more than $195 million dollars to the Arizona economy. For inmates in the program the repeat offenses rate is reduced by over 30%. The money they earn is kept for them upon their release to help their transition back to society with a marketable skill. Amazing story, amazing products. We bought a roadrunner to place outside. Here is the metal roadrunner that we bought staked out under our grapefruit tree.




On the way back to the park we ate at Rudy's BBQ and Country Store for some incredible Texas brisket.

It was a great day trip. The weather has been cooler than normal here in the Valley of the Sun recently and we are not complaining. But the heat is on its way.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo




Friday, May 8, 2015

MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MUSEUM

Currently in Goodyear AZ (Low 56 Breezy Slight Chance of Rain High 72)

We are enjoying the cooler temperatures, high of only 72 today, at least for awhile. We have been sitting outside in the shade reading books from the library for the last few days.

Who knew that there was a museum dedicated to all kinds of musical instruments? Who knew that it was located in Phoenix? Finally, who knew it was an incredible museum? Well we knew that it was in Phoenix and we found out that it was great during a recent visit. There are so many musical instruments from around the world that it is hard to believe. Here are some examples:







At checkin you get wireless headphones that pick up the signal from the area that you are in sync'd with the video that you can watch at the displays. Make sure that you do this, this is really neat. The museum is subdivided a few ways. The main divisions are by place of origin. There are other areas dedicated to artists.






A couple of things stood out for us. First was the very first Steinway piano ever made on display. Who knew that a piano made in Steinway's kitchen would be the start of that great company.




But the most amazing was what they called trash instruments, instruments made from the trash from a massive landfill in Cateura, Paraguay. Visionary music teacher Favio Chavez gathered a small team to plunder the landfill for usable materials and create an ensemble of "recycled" instrument. For example a cello was made from oilcans, scraps of wood, an old spatula and pieces of a meat grinders. Watching the video how they made the instruments and then hearing them play just sent shivers up and down our spines.



This is an incredible museum and should be on everybody's list. Visit the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo



Tuesday, May 5, 2015

SAW "AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON"

Currently in Goodyear AZ (Low 58 Partly Cloudy High 85) 

With the temperatures hovering near 100 recently we decided it was time for an indoor activity so we went and saw "Avengers: Age of Ultron". 




As we have mentioned before we are big fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Funny thing is that when Bob was growing up he preferred and read more DC than Marvel Comics. But we feel that the Marvel movies are much better than the DC movies.

"Time to call in the Avengers" spoken by Coulson in the television series "Marvel's Agents of Shield" really kick-started our enthusiasm for this movie. We really like the tie in to the TV series to the movie. Ultron is a artificial intelligence robot created by Tony Stark to act as a peacekeeping force. As Ultron matures, voiced by the terrific James Spader, he feels that if mankind were eliminated entirely and there was only Ultron there would be peace. So as Coulson says time to call in the Avengers.

Stark's Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Director Fury, Hawkeye and Black Widow are back joined by some newcomers to the Avengers. An action packed couple of hours that was good fun. We especially liked the Hulkbuster Armour versus the Hulk scene, among many others. A great addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe but in our opinion not as good as our two favorites, Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy.

There is a short 'bonus' feature about 2 minutes into the credits but nothing at the end of the credits as is usual for Marvel Movies. There is a Stan Lee cameo which was funny.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Saturday, May 2, 2015

HAD OUR FIRST 100 DEGREE DAY

Currently in Goodyear AZ (Low 65 Sunny and Hot High 96) 

We had our first 100 degree day yesterday this trip in the Valley of the Sun, officially 101 in Phoenix. During our winters here we have had one other 100 degree day and that was when we stayed until mid-April one trip.




This certainly won't be our last one as we will be here until at least late August. Jo has a multi-step treatment plan for the problems with her neck. After that we plan to leave the heat and by then the monsoon season when the rains come and the humidity rises. When we are back here for the winter the pain center will start on her lower back.

We did have some good news when we got back late afternoon yesterday. Without any awnings and in the direct sunlight it was 75 degrees inside while our outside temperature was 100. Now both air conditioners were running all the time but it was comfortable inside. We plan to add some reflective material on the inside of a few windows to help. 

It's HOT!!

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Thursday, April 30, 2015

WORLD WILDLIFE ZOO

Currently in Goodyear AZ (Low 70 Sunny High 98)

Near the park is the World Wildlife Zoo and Safari Park. This blog entry covers a recent visit to just the zoo, we have yet to visit the safari part.

The Phoenix area has two big zoos the Phoenix Zoo and the World Wildlife Zoo and Safari Park. We have visited both and there are good things about both. Here are some of the animals that we saw.









It was partially a black and white day.







There is also an aquarium that is pretty neat, including this albino alligator (continuing the black and white theme) that would not survive in the wild.




It was a great time to walk around the zoo and aquarium.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo


Friday, April 24, 2015

BURROWING OWLS

Currently in Goodyear AZ (Low 60 Chance Showers High 79)


What are burrowing owls you ask? Burrowing owls are small owls that live in dry, open areas where grasslands, rangelands, agricultural lands, deserts and scrublands are found. These small owls are less than 12 inches tall, have long legs and a short tail, are mostly brown with numerous white or tan spots, and have white eyebrows just above bright yellow eyes. As their name implies, burrowing owls actually make their homes underground. As opposed to the Florida Burrowing Owl that may dig their own burrows, Western Burrowing Owls found in Arizona rely on the abandoned burrows of mammals like ground squirrels, prairie dogs, badgers, coyotes, and foxes.


These cute owls are within walking and easy driving distance from our park. We saw this one from the road.



Then we saw another close to a burrow.


As we got closer the owl moved to a burrow but still kept an eye on us.



There are a lot of things to do while we are here longer than we planned. The outdoor ones like these will probably become fewer and fewer as the heat rises.


Till next time,


Bob and Jo

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

WE SAW 'DO YOU BELIEVE'

Currently in Goodyear AZ (Low 58 Sunny High 88)

'Do You Believe' is a Christian movie so if that is not your cup of tea you can go to your next blog. If it is, you can read on.




We highly, highly recommend this movie. Not only is it one of the best Christian movies we have seen, it is plain and simply a great movie. A great movie has stars and this one does with Mira Sorvino, Sean Astin, Lee Majors, Ted McGinly, etc. A great movie has a great plot; 'Do You Believe' deals with the interactions of 12 people who learn that as it is written in the Book of James, "faith without action is dead".

It is well written, well directed and well acted. If it is still playing in your area you need to see this movie.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Monday, April 20, 2015

WE ARE PUBLISHED PHOTOGRAPHERS

Currently in Goodyear AZ (Low 57 Sunny High 89) 

Subtitled: Even a blind pig finds a truffle now and then

We know that we are not the greatest photographers in the world. We certainly don't have the equipment, just relying on a point and shoot automatic camera. We marvel at the shots that Judy of Travels with Emma and Al of The Bayfield Bunch, to name just a couple of the great bloggers and photographers that we follow. But every once in while we get lucky and get a good shot, at least to us. It is incredibly rare when others feel the same way.

We recently were surprised when we got an email from Lake Superior Magazine, the 2014 Minnesota Magazine of the Year. They were looking over the shots on our Flickr site, Bob and Jo Travel Photos, that we took on a recent trip to the Upper Peninsula and was wondering if one of our shots could be published in their magazine.




From the magazine, "The Keweenaw Snow Gauge marks the season's snowfall total and all-time records. (The snowiest winter on the books? 1978-79's 390.4 inches.)" We first had to get permission of our friends Bob and Wilma who agreed to become famous as the first people to be in a published Baskerville photo :-)

We both got a copy of the printed magazine but then we got wondering if it was available online. Lo and behold it is available here, Kitschy Kitchi Gami: Big Stuff by the Big Lake. It is number 16 of 22 "delightfully quirky sideshows for travelers called "roadside attractions or, more simply Big Things", per the magazine article.

We will continue touring this great country and taking photographs that interest us, once we can get out of Goodyear this year that is, maybe another published one is just around the corner :-)

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Saturday, April 18, 2015

WE FEEL LIKE WE ARE PUTTING DOWN ROOTS

Currently in Goodyear AZ (Low 56 Sunny and Breezy High 88) 

With all the uncertainty of when we will be able to leave we feel like we are putting down roots here in Goodyear. So in honor of National Library Week we got library cards at the Goodyear Branch of the Public Library.



We don't have any problem finding books to read with the exchange libraries in the RV parks across the country. Sometimes there are books that we want to read that are never available. Such a book is "Saint Odd" by Dean Koontz.



Jo really likes the Odd Thomas series and with this being the stunning conclusion she couldn't wait any longer. It gave Bob a chance to get some Jack Reacher novels which we both like.



Jo has an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon next week to rule out any surgical options and to review a recent MRI. After that she will visit the Pain Center again who has a couple more options for her neck and lower back. We will probably be here in May and maybe longer. Since the last two days were perfect for sitting outside we did just that and read some of the books we just got at the library.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

WE SAW A COUPLE OF MOVIES

Currently in Goodyear AZ (Low 55 Mostly Sunny and Windy High 82) 

As the weather gets hotter here in the Valley of the Sun we will see more movies as a main form of our entertainment. We recently saw the movies "Cinderella" and "Kingsman: The Secret Service", one we can recommend and one we cannot.

Cinderella is a retelling of the classic tale.



Kind of like the movie "Titanic" where you know what is going to happen but still a very good movie. Lilly James did a great job as Ella, aka Cinderella, and Cate Blanchett is good in everything she does. This is the movie we recommend.

We just saw "Kingsman: The Secret Service" yesterday.



Truth be told we still aren't sure about this movie except to say with all that uncertainty we don't recommend it. The Kingsman are a secret intelligence service that only recruits a new member when one dies. The movie starts out OK with a semi-comic semi-serious take on training for the service with a little silliness thrown in. Then it is like another director took over about half way as it cranks up the violence, sexual content and silliness to an absurd level. We weren't ready to get up and walk out but this movie came as close to that as any have for a long time.

Movies to see in the near future are: "Woman in Gold", "Insurgent" and "The Longest Ride" all out now. Those seem interesting but we are really looking forward to the Marvel movies coming out later, especially the next Avengers on May 1st.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Thursday, April 9, 2015

FOODIE UPDATE

Currently in Goodyear AZ (Low 48 Sunny High 80)

Our recent trip to Porter's Cafe inspired us to try some more foodie adventures. Here are some winners from the Phoenix area.

Fractured Prune



Quirky source of create-your-own donuts with a variety of glazes and toppings. They make the donuts right in front of you and then add the glaze and topping you choose. Bob had the caramel bliss which had a caramel glaze and mini chocolate chips for a topping. 



Jo had the strawberry shortcake which had a strawberry glaze and graham cracker and powdered sugar as toppings. 



Both of them were excellent, fresh and warm. The chain started in Ocean City, Maryland and has valley locations in Chandler, Glendale, Phoenix and Tempe and across the nation. Give them a try if in your area, they are incredible.

Sal's Gilbert Pizza



We saw this on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives and just had to eat here. We like pasta, and we like pizza, but would have never thought to combine them but Sal's does. On DDD they fixed Guy a baked ziti pizza, New York style pizza crust with baked ziti and mozzarella and pink sauce (a marinara and cream combo). 



We both had a lunch special of a slice of pizza, salad and a drink. Jo had the baked ziti pizza and Bob had the spaghetti and meatballs pizza. We really, really like the combination. We got a slice of lasagne pizza and an order of bolognese meat sauce with angel hair pasta to go. Our friends had the traditional veggie and meatlover varieties and said both were very good. They also fixed Guy a chicken marsala pizza which is on our list for next time. We are making plans to visit this place again before we leave even though it is about an hour away, it was that good.

The Pork Shop



In Queen Creek this old fashioned butcher shop is amazing. The smoked pork chops are some of the best we have had. They make a breakfast sausage with green chile that we also have had so we bought some of both. Added to our shopping was old fashioned ring bologna, cheddar cheese bacon smoked brats, and maple breakfast sausage. Looks like we have some eating at home in our future too.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo